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Sons of Victor – Chapter Five

This work is the property of:
©Anishagold

It was sixteen minutes past midnight and Shelly had just said goodbye to her boyfriend Dumisani in front of the house when her daughter’s driver pulled up and parked in the spot that had just been vacated.

A livid Shelly approached the driver’s side of the vehicle and hit her hand against the window repeatedly. The driver finally rolled it down. “I thought I told you to bring her back three hours ago!” She yelled at him.

She was covered in a purple fluffy robe, and underneath it was a little lace number of the same color. The whole set had been Dumisani’s gift to her on her 37th birthday.

The elderly man, appearing to be in his mid sixties stepped out of the vehicle to address his madam. On the other side, Sonia exited from the back passenger seat, staggering on her feet. Shelly looked around her before running to her daughter’s side. It was a natural reflex since her family was ver hounded by the tabloids. Her house was fully secured, but one could not be sure of the length these people would be willing to go to get a scoop. A drunk sixteen year old child could be the undoing of her father’s political career.

Just how many people out there had seen her like this? Shelly couldn’t help but wonder. She could only hope that William’s people hired to secretly guard her were on sight to take care of any potential problems.

Shelly put her arm around her daughter’s shoulders and quickly led her into the house. All the while, Sonia was trying to look up at her mother, laughing as if amused by her actions.

Once in the safety of the house, Shelly caressly threw her daughter onto the couch, her handbag slipping from her hand and dropping to the floor. The teenager laughed again, whether it was at her mother or at the situation was a matter for debate. Shelly turned to face the driver who was nervously waiting for official reprimand at the door.

“Mr man, you’re fired!” She said to him.

“His name is Ronald!” Sonia shouted from behind her. “Ronald Mbewe,” she finished. She was now sitting up straight, looking way too sober for someone who could barely drag her own weight a few seconds ago. “The man has been working for you for over ten years and you still don’t have the decency to know his name. You’re so unbelievable mum.”

“Sonia, shut up this minute before I make you.” And turning back to Ronald. “What are you still doing here?” She asked.

“I just wanted to inform you that you can’t fire me,” Ronald finally spoke. He had a certain calmness to his voice that was soothing and very elderly-like. He looked like the sort of man who had a lot of stories and wisdom to share from his many years on earth. “I’m under the employment of Mr Mwanza,” Ronald continued. “He put me in charge of Miss Sonia’s transport needs and safety. I am not her time keeper.”

“She is sixteen years old and she’s drunk!” Shelly argued. “Does she look safe to you?”

“I have seen her drink from this house before. I thought it was something she’s allowed to do,” Ronald countered.

“Well you thought wrong you moron!” Shelly said.

“I am sorry about that ma’am, it won’t happen again.”

“Get out of my sight you buffoon!” She yelled.

Ronald tipped his head and said goodbye to Sonia before leaving.

“Wow,” Sonia commented upon her driver’s exit. “You just can’t help being a nasty human being can you? And you wonder why for all those years, you couldn’t win the affections of a man you claim to love. Not even after you succeeded in making him your husband.”

Shelly looked like she had just been doused in cold water. This is what had become of her relationship with her daughter since the divorce. Without knowing the facts, Sonia blamed her for breaking up her family. According to her sixteen year old daughter, she was too nagging, too entitled, and she was an awful human being who couldn’t get her own husband to fall in-love with her. That is what Shelly’s world and life looked like in the eyes of her daughter. A tragedy.

Shelly closed the distance between herself and her daughter. “You think I enjoy being like this?” She asked. She was now towering over the teenager’s sitting figure.

“I don’t know. You’re the one who’s always yelling at people. You’re so selfish! You think everything is about you!” Sonia cried.

Shelly wanted to tell her daughter that she did not yell because she enjoyed it. She wanted her to know that all those times she raised her voice in her matrimonial home was not because she enjoyed the sound of her own voice. She was merely trying to get the attention of the man she loved, a man she was willing and ready to lay down her life for yet he would never ever give her the time of day…unless it was at his convinience. She wanted to tell her daughter that all that yelling and screaming, and the constant fights were all for love. That was all she ever needed, love.

Shelly had hoped that William would miss her in her absence and perhaps reconsider the divorce. But the years had gone by and he had not changed his mind. He was never going to fall in-love with her, not when he already had someone else in his heart. Twenty years ago she thought her dream had finally come true when she got engaged to the man of her dreams. She had expected a happily ever after, but someone should have told her that fairytales only exist in children’s books.

Who knew that her happily ever after involved being divorced and raising a teenage daughter who hated her guts? Shelly sat down next to her daughter on the couch. Sonia moved away, putting a distance between them.

“I know you blame me for divorcing your dad,” Shelly said. “But I didn’t do it because I wanted to. I did it because I needed to. I thought it was the only way to fix what was broken with our marriage.”

“How does divorcing your husband and breaking your family apart help you mend it?” Sonia asked.

Let me ask you something Sonia, ” Shelly said.” When we were living in your father’s house, were you happy? What was the relationship like with your father? “

Sonia blinked back tears as memories of her life in her father’s house played through her mind. “He loved me,”she said in a cracked voice. “He was always happy to see me. When I was a kid, he would play with me, and when I became older, he would sit down with me and talk to me about stuff, all kinds of stuff. We went to movies together and even traveled together.” She was smiling at the memories.

It had been a while since she had spent time like that with her father. Lately, the only things they did together was chat about her school life for a few minutes and he would be gone. They never went anywhere together. He had not even bothered to show up in the past week.

“And how often did that happen?” Shelly asked.

Sonia stomped to her feet. “Does it matter!?” She asked. To her, all that mattered was that she ws happy for whatever moments she got to spend with her father. Anything was better than being stuck at home with her overbearing mother.

Shelly followed her. “Yes it does Sonia. How many times in a week did you spend with your father? Since you refuse to answer, let me tell you, twice every week, and that was only after I ‘yelled’ as you so candidly put it. The rest of the time he was buried in work far away from home. Far away from us!”

“He was staying away from you! You!” Sonia cried. “You are the reason he didn’t want to come home because everytime he did you were yelling at him.”

Shelly blinked back her own tears. “I was not yelling at him,” she said in a broken voice. “I was begging him to spend more time at home, with us, me and you.”

“I am tired. I’m going to bed.” Sonia grabbed her little handbag from the floor and made her way towards the set of stairs leading to her room.

“Just so you know, you’re grounded!” Shelly shouted from behind.

Sonia stopped midway through the staircase and turned to face her mother. “Why?” She boldly asked.

“You know why,” Shelly said. “You blantantly disobeyed me when I gave you a clearly stipulated time to return home. You broke your curfew so now you have to face the consequences. No more after school activities for two months!”

“That’s unfair!” Sonia protested.

“My word is final,” Shelly stated sternly. “Let’s see you try to do this nonsense in your father’s house. I dare you.

“And who gets to police you for bringing young men to the house, huh?” The defiant teenager asked.

“Excuse me?”

“Did you think I did not see you sneaking away your boy toy? “

Shelly moved from where she was to stand at the bottom of the stairs, her daughter just à few steps ahead. “Listen to me young lady and listen good,” she said. “I’m the adult here. That means I get to do whatever I want, whenever I please. I have earned that privilege. You’re my daughter, in my custody, and under my roof. That means you get to do whatever I tell you. You want freedom and independence? Grow up and earn it. Do I make myself clear? ”

“I want to live with daddy!” Sonia sobbed. “Why won’t you let me live with him?”

Because he doesn’t want you to. Because he has no time for you. Because he is too busy attending to more important issues.

She could easily yell all this at her daughter and break her little rebellious heart to pièces. However, this was not her daughter’s war to fight, it was hers. She was the mother. It was her responsibility to protect her daughter even if said daughter did not have the state of mind to comprehend the actions of her loving mother.

“Go to bed Sonia,” Shelly said in response.

“Do you actually think that man you sneak around with loves you?” Shelly asked, trying to hurt her mother the same way she was hurting inside.

“First of all, I did not sneak anyone out of this house. It was time to leave so he left. Period. Secondly, I will have no more of this discussion with you Sonia, so go to your room!”

“He doesn’t love you! He is using you! Who do you think gives the tabloids intimate details about this family?”

You think I don’t know that? Shelly thought. But I am lonely. I have been for many many years. You wouldn’t understand. I need Dumisani. He is the only person in this whole world who’s on my side. He might not be perfect, but at least he doesn’t hide his intentions from me.

“Don’t make me repeat myself,” Shelly warned.

“Fine! Have it your way,” Sonia retorted. “At least I’m not the one between us who’ll be spending the rest of the night crying on her pillow.” She noisely stumped her way through the remaining steps on the stairs to her room.

Down the stairs, Shelly wiped away a stubborn tear that had escaped the safety of her eyelids. She went back into the living room and picked up her phone, determined to fix whatever was wrong and give her daughter the family she deserves. William was her first speed dial.

“We need to talk, urgently.” She said the moment her call was answered.

“Did something happen with Sonia? Is she alright?” William asked. Typical of him to be only concerned about his daughter. What about her, the one raising his only child? Didn’t he care about how she was doing? What if something happened to her, then who was going to take care of his daughter? Certainly not him. She would only be a burden. And most certainly not his alcoholic mother. They would fight each other to the death.

Both Shelly’s parents were late. Her mother had been the first to go, and her father followed a few years later. She had been an only child, but Shelly was not all alone in the world. She had relatives, a lot of them. Some she didn’t even know, but they all knew her. Her parents’ fortune, which now belonged to her, Sonia, and William was a huge magnet that drew relatives and friends from far and wide. With that sort of money, it was not easy separating friend from foe.

In the end, Shelly had decided to keep a small circle of people around her and her daughter. And yet the one person she needed the most did not care about how close or far he was from them. So who else did her daughter have? For Shelly, there was only one option: to get William to see that only she and Sonia were his only center. He needed them, especially now that the elections were just around the corner.

“She misses you William,” Shelly said. “This whole week you haven’t been to see her. I understand that you have important things to see to, but Will, she is important too. She needs her father.”

There was a moment of silence on the other end of the line, and then, “I know,” William said. “I was actually planning on calling you earlier today but I lost track of time.”

Shelly’s face broke into a huge smile, hope glistening in her eyes. “You were going to call?” She said.

“Yes,” William answered. “I need to talk to you about something important. How busy are you on Tuesday?”

“I won’t be busy, I’ll have time,” she said excitedly. “What is it you want to talk about? Can you at least tell me a bit so I know what to expect?”

“It’s about our family Shelly, Sonia especially, ” William said.

Shelly was grinning from ear to ear. “Okay, that sounds right. Should I come to your place or you’ll come here?”

“What time does Sonia get back from school?”

“She’s usually home by half past 5.”

“Then I’ll be there at 4, give us some time to talk privately. Then I can spend some time with her after. Is that okay with you?”

“Yes, yes, that’s perfectly fine with me.”

“Great,” William said. “I’m guessing she’s fast asleep now right?”

“She actually just went to bed a few minutes ago,” Shelly said. “We actually had a bit of some drama. She came home very late, I grounded her, and she had some choice words to say to me.”

“Oh my, I’m sorry you’re doing all this by yourself Shelly. I know I should do better as her dad. I have no excuses, but I’m gonna try harder now to become a better dad to my kids.”

“Kids?” Shelly laughed. “We have only one kid Will. Although I understand, Sonia can be quite a handful sometimes.” Deep down, Shelly was wondering, does he want to expand the family…have another baby? She was beeming with so much happiness she could hardly contain herself.

“Yeah, that,” William said, more to himself than to her. “So Tuesday, let’s talk. And I’ll talk to Sonia about her issues. This can’t go on any longer. I’ve told her many times that you aren’t to blame for what happened, that I’m the bad guy. She never listens. Give her a goodnight kiss for me and tell her when she wakes up that I’ll be seeing her tomo…actually, it’s already today. I’ll see her today. Before I hang up, you wanted to talk to me about something right? Isn’t that why you called? “

“I just wanted to talk about us. I was worried because you didn’t come this week.”

“I know, I’m really sorry. But everything is going to change now Shelly. I promise I’ll do better as a dad from now on.”

“Now you’re making me curious,” Shelly said. “Did something happen to bring about this change?” She suspected it had something to do with the campaign, but if it involved them becoming a family again, she didn’t care what the motivé was.

“We’ll talk later today. Have a good rest Shelly.”

“You too Will.”

Alone in her room, Sonia locked the door and took off all her clothes. She checked her reflection in the mirror, smoothed her hair into place, and once she was satisfied, she reached for her phone and posed for a selfie.

Grinning mischievously, she opened her Whatsapp, searched for Irvin’s name whose number she had managed to coax out of Noah thanks to a little flirting, and hit the Send button.

On the other side of town, Irvin was in the middle of his studies when his phone vibrated with a notification. It was a strange number. Lately a lot of strange numbers had been messaging him. Most of them girls. He reluctantly opened the message, only to drop his phone a few seconds later as if he had just been burnt by it. He jumped out of his chair, putting a distance between himself and his phone.

For the first time in his life, Irvin felt like a little boy caught between two headless monsters.

He was terrified.

Echoes of the Heart – Part 3

Final image - Echoes of the Heart

Pain.

If you had the power to keep yourself from feeling it, would you embrace it?

They say that pain is a mechanism our brain employs to protect us from impending danger; that despite its unpleasantness, its aim is a positive one. But what happens when you become so accustomed to pain that you become immune to it?

Living in my self-imposed prison, pain to me had become a familiarity, a feeling I desperately clung to and pined for as if for dear life. While others existed for the ultimate goal of attaining happiness, for me, such a thought in itself was a sentence to eternal damnation.

I was so engrossed in my pursuit of penance and delusion of safety promised to me by the haven I had created for myself behind the walls of my prison that I was completely unaware of the power of love and what it could do to this hell I had perfectly crafted for myself.

Thus, when the walls came tumbling down, I was neither prepared nor willing to accept the changes that came with this thing called love. But as you might already know, when love comes, it does not knock and it does not seek permission.

But how was I to know that?

 

*         *         *

 

After running her errands in preparation for her upcoming trip, Sibusiswe decided to pass through Sibeso’s home in Chelstone, off Palm Drive. It was the only place she could think of where she could get the thoughts that had been troubling her the whole day out of her mind.

“Is your husband home?” Sibusiswe asked as Sibeso ushered her into the house.

The pile of mens and children’s shoes by the side of the passageway leading to the living room reminded Sibu of a time when such a scene spelled home for her. The loud aroma of freshly cooked Okra that filled the air seduced Sibu’s senses and made her stomach growl in expectation.

“Whenever you ask about my hubby’s presence, I know that you have some pent up awful things to say about your former mother in-law,” Sibeso remarked as she sat on the arm of the red leather sofa that Sibusiswe had just thrown herself on.

“Fortunately for you, he isn’t home.” Sibeso said. “He left with the kids just after having supper, said he’s going to get some ice cream for them since we ran out…but I know he has other plans in mind.” And whilst standing up she added, “I have some food that remained from dinner, want me to warm it up for you? I know how much you love okra.”

Sibusiswe shook her head. “If I let you get to the kitchen then you and I won’t get to talk before your husband and the kids get back. Just get me a glass of juice, the usual.” She then reached forward and grabbed the remote control from the table and switched from Disney Junior to Discovery ID.

“How is Maleficent?” Sibeso shouted from the dining room.

Maleficent was the nickname the two women had secretly given Martin’s mother thanks to her make-up style and mannerisms that mirrored those of Angelina Jolie in her iconic role as the villain in the Disney film.

“How did you know that I had seen her today?” Sibu shouted back.

Sibeso appeared just then with a glass on juice on a small tray and laid it before her friend. “Because I am your best friend and I know that she is the only species capable of draining the life out of you…apart from Martin of course,” she said and went to seat on the single seater couch adjacent to the one Sibu was seated on.

“You said something about your hubby having other plans,” Sibu said, fully turning her body around to look at her friend as she sipped from her glass of juice. “He is not cheating on you, is he?”

Sibeso cackled. “Of course not silly,” she said. “At least to the best of my knowledge, he isn’t. But, even if he was, taking Mapalo with him would be a dumb move on his part.” She chuckled some more. “That girl is a parrot and a human PVR, even DSTV has nothing on her. She will come and offload everything she sees and hears before I even ask.”

The two women enjoyed a hearty laugh as Sibeso went on to gush about her adventures as a house wife and mother to a five year old girl and four year old boy.

“So what happened with Maleficent today?” Sibeso finally asked. “She didn’t come to pressure you about Jacob’s custody issue did she?”

“Not today,” Sibu replied.

“One of these days you should tell her off or I will. If not for you she would have no precious son to boast about. I would love to see the look on her naturally pissed off face when she learns the truth. That should shut her up for the next fifteen years.

“I know right,” Sibu snickered. “But still, that’s the one thing about my life I like to remain private. So, about my day today…the most unbelievable thing happened that made my blood turn black.”

Sibeso looked at Sibu expectantly. “What happened?” she asked.

“I had just finished declaring war with my aunt and was ready to bounce back to my car when right outside the shop, I bumped into Maleficent.”

Sibeso gasped. “What the hell?”

“I am telling you!” Sibu answered. “What could the two women who hate me the most in this world be possibly plotting…suddenly acting like the best of friends hugging and laughing as if they were never at logger heads before. That whole episode today made me really nervous. I feel like there is a war being plotted out there and I am the only one unarmed. Do you think I’m being paranoid?”

Sibeso shook her head. “I don’t think you are being paranoid sweetie; I also think something is off with those two. They hated each other so why are they suddenly being Twilight with each other?!”

“How can I find out what’s going on before it’s too late?” Sibu asked. “Knowing my aunt, she must be the reason behind this kind of development.”

“How about asking Mwiche?” Sibeso suggested. “You two still talk, right?”

“Yes we do, I don’t know why I didn’t think of that.” Sibu answered. “She had called me last night just to check up on me…and I even made a blunder, imagine.”

“What kind of blunder?” A wide-eyed Sibeso asked.

“I accidently mentioned my trip to SA while we were talking…thing is, I have not yet told Martin about it. She must have called him the moment she got off the phone with me because he has been calling me incessantly since.”

“And why haven’t you told him yet?” Sibeso asked.

“Because I kind of feel bad about taking away his son even if it’s only for a short while,” Sibu replied.

Sibeso scoffed. “You think two years without seeing your son in a short while?”

Sibu was momentarily at a loss for words. “Now that you’ve put it like that…” Sibu raised her shoulders. “But this is an opportunity I can’t afford to miss Sibe. You know very well how the past years have been for me in terms of career advancements. I really need to do this.”

“Pass me that remote,” Sibeso asked Sibusiswe.

Sibu was about to hand it over when she changed her mind. “What do you want to do? It better not be because you want to change the channel.”

“I don’t know why you are so addicted to these crime channels,” Sibeso remarked. “Only people that want to commit the perfect crime get hooked on such shows. If it’s Maleficent you are plotting to kill, please count me in,” she joked.

Sibu grabbed a cushion and playfully threw it at Sibeso who caught it in time to avoid being hit.

“Will you tell Martin who you will be staying with in South Africa?” Sibeso asked, a mischievous grin playing on her face.

“Whatever evil thoughts are going through that head of yours, stop,” Sibu warned. “There is nothing going on between Ted and I. We’ve always been good friends and Martin knows it…not that I care about what he thinks. We are way passed the point of interfering in each other’s lives.”

“Do you think Ted feels the same way?” Sibeso asked.

“What do you mean?” Sibu asked.

Sibeso sat up straight to drive her point across. “Tell me Sibu, why would a guy that good-looking, rich, well educated, smart, a great career, and has everything going well for him still be single up to now?” She asked.

“What has that got to do with me?” Sibu retorted dismissively. “Maybe he just hasn’t found the right woman yet but that doesn’t mean that woman is me. Ted and I sorted out our issues a long time ago. He made it very clear what his feeling were…are towards me so stop trying to dress up an innocent friendship into something perverse and unfitting.”

“If you say so,” Sibeso shrugged her shoulders, not convinced in the slightest by her friends monologue.

As Sibusiswe drove back to her place that evening, her mind wondered back to the past, to the moment in time when her world had slowly started spinning out of control.

If she could go back in time, would she be able to see the signs and stick to her resolve to safely guard the walls around her? If she had that chance, would she still make the same decisions?

 

 

“You look like shit,” Conrad noted the moment Martin joined them at the bar.

For a man who cared about appearances as much as the air he breathed, Martin was looking a little worse for wear in his ill-fitting grey t-shirt and suit pants which he must have obviously forgotten to take off after knocking off from work. He never ever wore anything casual on a suit pant. Being an extremist in most areas of his life, Martin’s wardrobe consisted of full on office wear which were mostly suits and full on casual wear which comprised mostly jeans and t-shirts …and these two categories never ever crossed borders, until that Friday evening at the bar.

“I think he killed someone and kept the t-shirt as a trophy,” Nelson Chanda teased his boss. Nelson had joined M&M just two years ago and managed to successfully ingratiate himself into Martin’s social cycle.

“I am kind of forced to agree…” Kondwani Musaba chipped in. Being the only one in the group not a lawyer, Kondwani was the least outspoken of the four friends.

Martin rolled his eyes dismissively at his three friends. “Go on, take jabs at your boss now. This is the only time you get to have your revenge.”

Conrad handed Martin an already opened bottle of Castle Lite. “But serious man, what happened to you?” He asked, looking down at Martin’s muddy slippers.

Martin ran his hand through his head and sighed heavily. “My ex-wife happened,” he said and took a sip of his beer before laying the bottle back on the counter with a thud.

“What happened with Sibu? Did she finally ask for child support? Knowing her, it should be a tag so high even you wouldn’t afford it.” Nelson joked and won himself disapproving looks from everyone. “My bad,” he raised his hands in the air. “What did she do?”

“It would be nice if she asked for some money, any amount that way I would feel less guilty towards her.” Martin was saying. “But Sibu being Sibu, she still refuses to accept any form of financial assistance from me, even for my own son. But that’s not why I am upset….”

“The Sibu- effect,” Conrad said before Martin could finish what he was saying.

“Sibu-effect?” Kondwani asked, looking from one friend to the other. From all their expressions, it was obvious he was the only one in the dark.

Conrad and Nelson were now laughing to their hearts content, much to Martin’s chagrin.

“Can you two behave?” Martin warned.

“Sorry man,” Conrad patted his friend on the shoulder as he tried to control himself. “You must be the only guy at the office who doesn’t know about the Sibu effect,” Conrad had turned his attention to Kondwani.

“Is that a good or a bad thing?” The innocent looking and soft spoken Accountant asked.

“It depends,” Nelson laughed but immediately froze the moment Martin threw a stern look in his direction.

“Let me tell you about the Sibu-effect my dear friend,” Conrad said to Kondwani, excitement written all over his face.

 

*         *         *

  

February, 2010

Sibusiswe felt the world spin around her as she came out of the doctor’s office. The distance from the office to the waiting area seemed very long. She struggled to get her bearings correct, her head throbbing from the news she had just received.

Holding on to the nearest wall, Sibusiswe shut her eyes and waited for the world to stop spinning.

“Are you alright Mrs Mwewa?” Doctor Sanjay had come out of her office and found her patient in that position.

Holding her by the shoulders to steady her, the doctor said, “This is the first time I have informed a married woman that she’s pregnant and seen her react in such a manner.” She slowly helped Sibu walk through the waiting area filled with people and led her outside to where her car was parked.

“I think I am fine now,” Sibusiswe rubbed her hand over her eyes and was more than glad to regain her stable relationship with gravity.

“Is this something you need me to keep from your husband?” The doctor gave Sibu a knowing look. “I have been a family doctor for the Mwewa’s for over seven years now and….”

For a moment, Sibu wondered about the meaning of the doctor’s words until she caught on. “Oh no doctor,” she started shaking her head but stopped when the dizziness threatened to return.

“It’s not what you are thinking,” she quickly corrected whatever conclusions the doctor might have arrived at. “This is definitely my husband’s child, definitely,” she repeated. “It’s just that…apart from some personal issues….I am currently a student…and I was kind of hoping to wait a little before starting a family.”

I actually don’t want a child right now…not right now. This will complicate everything. Sibu lamented.

As Sibusiswe drove back home, she wondered about the next step to take and settled on talking to her husband first before making any decision…although she already knew what his reaction would be.

She parked to the side of the road and picked up her phone to call Martin. However, upon looking at her call logs, she changed her mind. “Isn’t it better to tell him in person?” She said to herself. Throwing her phone on the passenger seat and getting back on the road, a mischievous grin playing on her face.

By the time Sibusiswe was arriving in Kitwe to see her husband who for the past two weeks had been living in their Kitwe vacation home whilst overseeing their latest building projects, it was already past midnight.

Martin’s car parked in the car park just in front of the two story house told her that he was at home. She would have not been surprised if she didn’t find him home since he was a man that loved the night scenery of any town he visited.

She grabbed her phone and bag and headed to the house. Opening the door with her spare key, she encoutered a half awake – half asleep fifteen year old Charles. Charles was Martin’s cousin from his father’s side.

Martin had asked the boy’s father to take care of the house when there was no one visiting from Lusaka. They had built the house as a cheaper alternative to constantly living in hotels and lodges since the family was constantly travelling to Kitwe to take care of the many businesses they had there.

Charles was petrified to see Sibu standing there before him that for close to a minute, he just stood there gaping at her.

“What’s wrong with you?” Sibu looked bemused. “You look like you have just seen a ghost.”

Unconsciously, the fifteen year old looked at Sibu and then towards the stairs leading to the master bedroom where Martin was supposed to be sleeping. Then he slowly started shaking his head in horror.

Sibu didn’t need to ask to know. “It’s fine Charles,” she reassured him, keeping her voice steady. “Where’s uncle?” She asked the boy who was now sweating profusely despite the cool weather from the showers outside.

“He…he…he is..in…Ndola,” Charles stuttered. “He…went to see mum,” he gushed the words out.

“Okay, you can go back to bed now.” Sibu placed a hand on his shoulder to let him know he wasn’t the one in trouble. “Sorry I disturbed your sleep. I will take care of everything here.” She forced a smile as she headed upstairs, leaving a petrified Charles rooted on the spot.

Sibusiswe took a deep breath before opening the door, bracing herself for whatever awaited her on the other side.

She carefully opened the door and was immediately greeted by two completely naked bodies sleeping soundly on the bed she had once lain in.

Because Martin liked sleeping with the lights on, the room was properly lit to reveal everything in sight. She could see two used condoms posing on the floor in their wrinkled glory. The bed was surrounded by littered pieces of his and her clothes, a pile of beddings was tossed at the foot of the bed, with Martin’s shoes on one side, and the woman’s on the other.

The scene before her was a portrait of sordid Babylonian encounters brought to life. It was a milieu of quenched lust and lasciviousness, the ambiance of which lashed at Sibu’s insides with ferocious vengeance.

She didn’t need to check to confirm if it was her husband lying there and snoring like there was no tomorrow. The body language of the two screamed of diddled romance as each lay on further ends of the bed facing away from each other, a pillow deliberately placed on the woman’s face. She was just another addition to his long list of flavours.

Sibusiswe moved closer to the bed and slowly lifted the pillow off the woman’s face. It wasn’t anyone she knew. The woman appeared to be in her early thirties, beautiful with intelligent looking features, just his usual style.

She does look like me ten years from now, Sibusiswe thought as she put the pillow back over the woman’s face and walked to the side of her husband.

Martin, oh Martin, she slowly shook her head whilst taking in her husband’s naked frame.

Pushing back the tears, Sibusiswe walked over to the wardrobe, opened it and took out a duvet.

She walked to the other side of the room where a huge white two-sitter couch lay in front of a 32 inch smart TV. She removed the three layered colourful cushions from the sofa,  and posing herself as if for body viewing, she closed her eyes to sleep.

A hot tear came out of the side of her closed left eye.

 

When Martin woke up the next morning, it was to the smell of familiar scents and aromas. He slowly sat up and found his partner from the previous night enjoying some breakfast on a well laid out tray.

“Did you just make yourself breakfast in my house?” Martin glared at her disdainfully. “You needed to be out of here before my cousin wakes up.” He grabbed his wrist watch from the side of the bed and checked the time.

“It’s now 8 o’clock and you are still seated here acting like a madam. I told you I am a married man.” He got out of bed and and was about to reach for his clothes on the floor when he found nothing.

only then did he notice the changes in the room.

Apart from the bed, everything else in the room was in immaculate order, way better than it had been for the past two weeks.

“Did you clean this room?” Martin asked before spotting a pile of fresh clothes laid out on the arm of the sofa on the other side of the room.

He scoffed. “If you are campaigning for marriage, you are barking at the wrong guy…what did you say your name was again?”

“Gloria,” the woman answered as Martin went to put on the fresh clothes anyway.

“I think you are being rude and making a lot of wrong assumptions,” Gloria said from the other side of the room. She put her tray down on the bed and glared at Martin. “I didn’t make this breakfast and I didn’t touch anything in this room apart from my clothes,” she said. “When I woke up I found a lady cleaning the room, she told me she was your cousin or something. I was about to leave but she insisted that I have breakfast first because she would be in trouble if you discovered that she let a guest leave without eating.”

With one leg into his pant and the other half-way through, Martin paused and turned around. “A lady?” he threw a questioning look at Gloria. “There are no women that live in this house, only my uncle and his son. What lady are you talking about?”

It was Gloria’s turn to look puzzled. “She looked young, tall, and very beautiful with very long hair. At first I thought she was one of your women but she was very kind to me.”

“Oh shit!” Martin forgot about his state of undress and tried to move but went crushing down to the floor, face first.

“Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit,” he repeated as he struggled to put his leg back into his trousers. “You need to get out of here right now if you want to live.”

He finally succeeded with the trousers and was now rushing towards the door.

“What’s going on here?” A very confused Gloria asked from behind him.

Martin paused for a second at the door. “That kind woman that served you breakfast is my wife.” He said between clenched teeth as the woman responded in frightened countenance.

“If I were you, I would be rushing to the nearest hospital to get an antidote for whatever you just eat. You need to leave, now!” he said and bolted out of the door, taking the stairs two at a time.

He found a bamboozled Charles down the stairs. “Where’s my wife?” Martin asked.

Charles pointed towards the kitchen where sounds of plates clicking against each other could be heard.  “I thought you were dead,” He was visibly shaken by how things had turned out.

“Why do you think I am in shock right now?” Martin said as he ran towards the kitchen. For the first time ever, he was frustrated by the size of the house.

Charles went weak at the knees when he saw the woman his cousin had brought home when he thought he was fast asleep. She was carefully walking  down the stairs so as not to be heard, her shoes in her hands. “You are still here?” Charles whispered at the woman.

“Is it safe?” Gloria mouthed the words as she looked around the house.

Charles nodded and she quickly took the rest of the stairs down.

Martin’s cousin  helped her to the door and quickly closed it behind her, taking a deep breath and rested his back against the very door in relief.

What the hell was going on? He thought as he tip-toed back to his room, making sure to lock his door behind him.

“Sibu,” Martin nervously called his wife’s name from the entrance of the kitchen. He needed an early exit in case something came flying in his direction.

Sibusiswe put down the plate she was washing and turned off the water in the sink before turning around to face her husband. “Martin,” was all she managed as a response.

She crossed her arms over her chest and leaned back against the sink, waiting to hear whatever Martin had to say. She certainly wasn’t going to make it easy for him.

This is not how I expected things to go, Martin lamented to himself. What the hell I’m I supposed to say? Why isn’t she saying anything? Why isn’t she throwing things? What I’m I supposed to do?

Next thing he knew, he was down on his knees, and with his hands raised above his head as if in prayer, he begged her forgiveness. “I am sorry Sibu…I am sorry babe…I will never do it again….” He went on like that for close to two minutes while Sibu remained rooted to her spot, watching his performance with a blank expression on her face.

She was indeed a tough audience to impress.

“Don’t even think about giving that oh the devil made me do it kind of nonsense.” Sibu finally snapped. “This time I can vouch for the devil because while you were busy dejuicing someone’s daughter, I had engaged the devil in a  little tete-a-tete. I needed to know why he’s so bent on messing me up all the time…” her voice started to shake a bit from stifling her tears.

“…otherwise, why would I be six weeks pregnant for someone like you?” Saying those words out was like a trigger that opened the floodgates she had been desperately tying to keep shut. How many more tears did she have to waste on him?

Never before had Martin been so conflicted.

The stellar announcement made him pause with his hands in the air as he starred at his wife in both anguish and euphoria. Not sure which emotion to settle for and still on his knees, Martin lowered his head further down as he begged his wife for forgiveness in absolute obeisance.

But Sibu was not fazed in the slightest. She was looking down at him like a bundle of poop that she needed to get away from as fast as possible. “Clean up your shit before you even think of talking to me,” she commanded in clear cut vociferation. “You reek of condoms and recycled vagina.”

She then grabbed a towel from the rack, dried her hands and threw it down to the floor before walking away, deliberately bumping into Martin and sending him falling off to the side as she squeezed herself out of the kitchen.

It was then that Martin realized he had forgotten to put on a shirt.

Martin managed to get up from the floor with some difficult but by the time he was outside, Sibusiswe had already driven off.

 

*         *         *

 

“And that my friend is what is known as the Sibu-effect,” Conrad proudly announced. He was now on his feet, standing next to an astound Kondwani with his arm resting over his shoulder.

“It is a phenomenon or a type of reactivity that occurs when a man has been caught naked in bed with another woman by his wife and the said wife then proceeds to make the two breakfast in bed, thus putting the man in a state of confusion and trepidation…with a slight hint of pee on his pants as he grovels in despair begging for retribution.” Conrad drollery summarized for his mates as Martin looked on in disquietude.

Kondwani gasped. “You peed on yourself?” he asked Martin.

Martin stretched his hand and smacked the back of Conrad’s head. After his friendship with Ted had faltered years back, Conrad had somehow taken over the spot as Martin’s close friend, a development that did neither of the former friends imagined possible.

“Of course I didn’t!” Martin defended his honor. “Yes, maybe I did think about it but it never happened. However, to this day, thinking about that incident makes the hairs at the back of my neck stand.”

“Whatever happened to the woman she caught you in bed with?” Nelson inquired. “I have always wondered about that.”

“Oh yeah, me too,” Conrad too chipped in.

“She lived, if that’s what you are all insinuating with your questions.” Martin retorted. “But I had to ask my secretary to anonymously keep calling the woman just to check if she was still alive before I could finally start eating food from home.”

“And she never divorced you even after finding you like that?” Kondwani asked, looking a little overwhelmed by all the information he had just heard.

“Before I could even commerce project beg until no shred of pride is left in you when I reached home, she looked me in the eye and told me that she was only staying because she needed my money and she wanted to give our child a proper family so there was no need for me to grovel before her. She was curt and brutal…up to now I still don’t know what i was most sorry about; that I had done something like that to my wife and let her catch me in such a state, or that I had put her through so much pain that she no longer gave a dame about my indiscretions. either way, it hurts like hell,” he hit his hand against his chest repeatedly as a somber expression materialized on his face.

“I don’t know whether I should give your wife…ex-wife a medal or get a restraining order against her just so I can protect myself from ever meeting her.” Kondwani the accountant lamented. “I respect her a lot…but at the same time I am very afraid of her.”

“Me too my friend,” Martin said with a far-off expression on his face. “Me too,” he repeated.

“Your ex-wife is hard core,” Nelson remarked. “She got a self-proclaimed bachelor to marry her in the shortest space of time and then she went ahead and dumped him at a time when he least expected it. There should be a superhero named after her somewhere in the world or even a word should be added in the dictionary in her honour,” and after pausing for a bit he added, “Sibu: the act of not giving a dame when a man repeatedly cheats on you; when used in a sentence, Martin was Sibu’d by his ex-wife…or, Most women of the 21’st century practice sibulity.”

Three men gaped at Nelson as they shook their heads in shared incredulity.

“You know what has always bothered me,” Conrad brushed Nelson off. “How is it that a woman that claimed to have married you for your money refused to take even a single penny of your money in alimony?”

“You think I have never asked myself that?” Martin said. “That’s what pisses me off the most, that despite being married to her for five years, I know nothing about her. I know without doubt that something is going on with her but I have no idea what it is. Last night Mwiche told me that she spoke to Sibu and that she accidentally let on that she will be leaving the country in a few days. We have a child together yet she hasn’t even bothered to inform me. I have been trying to call her since last night but she won’t take my calls.”

“Is that why you left the house looking like that?” Nelson asked.

“I got home and found my mother waiting for me,” Martin replied. “As usual she wanted to start talking trash about Sibu but I just wasn’t in the mood. I grabbed the nearest thing I could find and bolted out of there.”

“Why does your mother hate your ex-wife so much?” Kondwani asked.

The three of them looked at him snippily.

“His mother hates any woman that gets close to her son,” Conrad supplied. “But it was worse for Sibu because of two reason; one, she was Tonga, and two, Martin was crazy in-love with her.”

“Oh,” was all Kondwani could say in response. He knew someone exactly like that.

“So where is Sibu going? Are you going to let her go with your son?” Nelson asked.

“She is going to SA…and yes, if she is going then I will have no choice but to let her go with him…that was the agreement we made. She has full custody…because it was my way of thanking her and apologizing for everything I did to her…and of course because I trusted her to know she would let me see Jacob whenever I wanted. Both her parents are late, so she is a sucker for family. I had to give her full custody to protect her from my mother…just in case of any eventualities.”

“But what were you thanking her for…you said something about thanking her? We all know why you needed to apologize…but thanking her…” Nelson quipped. “…for allowing your sorry ass to cheat on her while you were still married to her?

Nelson once again won himself disconcerting looks from his buddies.

Martin looked at Nelson in indignation. “You do know I stopped carrying a gun around with me the day after you joined the company, right?” He said. “Don’t tempt me right now,” he cautioned him.

Kondwani and Conrad enjoyed a hearty laugh at the expense of their friend.

“Isn’t Ted also in South Africa?” Conrad later asked as realization dawned on him. “That’s why you are this worked up, isn’t it?” He starred at his friend in apprehension.

The look of trepidation on Martin’s face confirmed Conrad’s suspicions.

“Are you talking about Ted, the one whose father is…” Kondwani was saying.

“Yes, that same one,” Nelson cut in. “When I joined the company I heard rumors about you guys fighting over Sibusiswe. Apparently you betrayed him and stole her from him.”

Martin starred lividly at the imprudent Nelson. “You know, for a lawyer you lack tact Nelson, sometimes I wonder if you are a friend or foe.” He said.

Nelson snickered. “I just say it as it is,” he said without the slightest hint of mortification. “So it is true about what went down between the two of you?” He pressed on unashamedly, again winning himself austere countenance  from everyone.

“I don’t know about what you heard and frankly I don’t give a dame. However, if you must know; yes it is a fact that both Ted and I were in-love with Sibu but it is also a fact that she was always in-love with me and never with him.”

“So why are you nervous about the possibility of the two of them meeting in SA?” Nelson persisted.

Martin glared at him, completely befuddled by his lack of  savoir faire, “I never said I was nervous,” Martin lied. “This is the first time I am going to be very far from my son and that worries me, a lot. Is that information enough for you Mr Nasty?”

Nelson only chuckled in response, pleased with the fact that he had managed to get under Martin’s skin.

“You know, sometimes you talk as if you only have one child. I wonder what Veronica feels about that.” Conrad said.

Martin scoffed. “Veronica is an opportunistic bitch who thinks that just because her parents forced her on me then that makes her my wife. There is no woman on the face of this earth that will ever take Sibu’s place in my heart.I have made that point clear to her every single day but she still ain’t leaving.”

Kondwani thought about asking Martin an obvious question but reasoned that he needed some liquid courage first before daring to ask his boss such a bold question. He knew everyone else was dying to know as well and so he put his trust in the bottle.

“If you loved your wife that much,” Kondwani started after gulping down the contents of his bottle. “If you loved her so much, why did you treat her like that?”

Conrad and Nelson shared a knowing looks, both impressed by Kondwani’s courage despite it’s liquid nature to ask the question they had all dared not ask.

As his friends waited for his response, Martin starred at the contents of the bottle in front of him, his mind taking him back to the time when all the plans he had laid out for himself started falling to the ground…a time when his heart had developed a mind of its own and forced him to acknowledge some truths he was not yet ready to confront.

If he could go back in time, would he do things differently?